When love turns deadly, the beloved play dead.
Western Maryland farm girl Kate Fallon wanted more than horse pastures. Now a trial lawyer in the affluent Annapolis law arena and married to multi-millionaire Jack Reynolds, also the U. S. Attorney of Maryland, she’s got it all—at least everyone thinks so.
Behind closed doors, Jack is as cruel as he is intelligent, as controlling as he is handsome. When his tirades turn physical, Kate must fight for her life. But her efforts to leave him will take her down a rabbit hole to secrets she doesn’t fully understand, and that Jack will kill to suppress.
Two years later, Kate’s keeping secrets of her own. Living as Charlie Robertson, a take-no-crap general contractor, she’s secure most days knowing her nightmare is right where she left him—two thousand miles due east under FBI scrutiny. Wielding a nail gun instead of a briefcase suits her, as does the small mining town of Creede, Colorado. With its scenic views and open spaces, life is simple and so are her rules: Lock all doors, check for signs she’s been followed, and don’t get involved romantically ever again.
Unfortunately, retired Navy SEAL and tourist Nick Foster didn’t get the memo. Mysterious, sexy, and powerfully attracted to Charlie, Nick typically likes things easy. Only “easy” isn’t in Charlie’s vocabulary, and neither is trust. Worst part is, she’s right not to trust him, and yet he can’t help falling for her. But love won’t save either one of them if she discovers his true identity or doesn’t give him what he came for. His boss won’t tolerate failure.
The woman was diabolical and scoring points with him in a major way. He moved his hand to the base of her neck and pulled her close and kissed her hard on her mouth. When he pulled away, her lips were moist and slightly open.
“What?” He couldn’t help but chuckle. Speechless.
“I didn’t say you could . . . you know . . .”
“You didn’t have to. It was written all over your face.” He chuckled, again, and she became pensive.
“How are you going to get home?”
On the way back to her cabin, he’d been pondering that same question. “That’s a dilemma. I gave my bike to your friend Maynard after he got me to the sawmill and sent him on his way.”
He nodded. “Grumpy bastard. But he cares for you. Eventually, I’ll get it back.” He connected with those brown eyes of hers that were slowly growing larger. “I’m thinking, after last week, you’re not keen on me borrowing your truck.”
She remained quiet.
“And I’m assuming Bobby Ray knows where you live.”
“The sheriff will catch up with him in due time. But until then, I’m not comfortable with you staying here alone.”
He gave her a minute to digest the situation and then ran his finger down the soft inside of her arm just below her elbow and the bandage. He laced his fingers through hers and then connected with her eyes again. “I got the gist of the conversation with Ben. But I’m thinking his arrival is sketch, at best, considering the speed of hospitals. I’d feel more comfortable if I spent the night.”
She made a move to protest.
“On the couch, of course.”
She cleared her throat. “I think that’s prudent, and I’ll feel better knowing I’m not alone.” Her fingers tightened on his. “You don’t have to sleep on the couch.”
Damn. He hadn’t been going there. Not that he wouldn’t like to with her. He just hadn’t counted on her being so agreeable.
“I have two spare bedrooms. You can pick whichever one you like best.” She gave him a sweet smile, grabbed her keys out of his hand, and turned to exit the truck, laughing when she shut the door.
Nick got out, slamming the door, and chased her up the steps. When he grabbed her around the waist, she shrieked then giggled when he pulled her to him. “You did that on purpose.”
“Ah, Nick, you’re so easy.” Her eyes danced with laughter under the recessed light of the porch; her hands gliding up his T-shirt teased him. “I do want you to stay,” she whispered, the humor fading from her face. “Thanks . . . for earlier. That was really stupid of me.”
Nick held her gaze. He needed her alive. His arms tightened around her slight waist, his hands resting on the curve of her shapely ass. But when he cut through the bullshit, the truth he’d rather ignore troubled him— she should fear him. He would bring her face to face with the evil she had so desperately sought to expunge from her life: Jack.
Headstrong horse rescue director Bren Ryan has been a red-headed streak of trouble for more than one man in Clear Spring. She’s grown up needling local “kill buyer” Wes Connelly, and since the sheriff ruled her husband’s sudden death an accident, Bren’s been investigating things herself. She’s certain Tom was murdered, and she’s hell-bent on cornering his killer the only way she knows how—by tempting him to do it again. And she’s the bait.
Rafe Langston came to Maryland looking for land and a fresh start. Or so he says. The sexy cowboy isn’t generous with details, but Bren couldn’t care less—until he buys half her farm at auction and moves into her childhood home. Suddenly, the last man she should befriend becomes her only ally in solving her husband’s murder.
Soon their cozy stakeouts sizzle with unexpected desire neither one can ignore, threatening his mysterious plans and her promise to never fall in love again—especially with a handsome stranger whose secrets could shatter what family she has left.
P. J. O’Dwyer is an award-winning author and an active member of Romance Writers of America. When asked where she gets her story ideas, she laughs ruefully and says, “It helps being married to a cop.” She lives in Maryland with her family. Visit her website at www.pjodwyer.com or www.blacksirenbooks.com.
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